Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

"One of the best at the Fringe...strong technique and sleek assurance...wittily sharp...very funny"

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Up and Over It & Chapter with Coreo Cymru & Theatr Iolo- Into the Water , The Space at Surgeon's Hall , August 19, 2016
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Up and Over It & Chapter with Coreo Cymru & Theatr Iolo- Into the Water From “Broadway Baby” 5th August

“If you want to see one of the best and most entertaining shows at the Fringe, look no further than Up & Over It, a fantastic subversive reinvention of Irish step dancing to electro pop music that will befuddle your brain with delightful spectacle. You might already know the duo that are Up & Over It, Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding, from their viral hand dancing videos (‘We No Speak Americano’) or from their appearances on Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent, or maybe you even saw them in their earlier days with Riverdance.

No matter how you may or may not know them, they are a force to be reckoned with. They tumble, they leap, they high kick just inches from your face, their feet and hands move faster than your eyes can follow. They are a toe-tapping sensation – literally toe tapping: Cleary at several times performs Irish step en pointe. The performance is broken up into sections, each with its own theme and sense of narrative. Jonny Reed’s video design perfectly integrates the pieces together, while colourful, and occasionally strobe, lighting complements the techno music and captivating movements.

I can hardly decide which is my favourite: the domestic war of the hand dance, the creepy masked doll-like traditional number, or the neon 80s Swan Lake turned rope skipping? They even take a satirical look at their own work with a scene dedicated solely to the online video and the rise in fame that followed. Their intelligent attention to detail is also an invitation to explore the darker side of a seemingly innocent dance form, and challenge what an audience might usually consider empty entertainment. Cleary and Harding are absolutely sensational and must be on your ‘what to see’ list this year.”

From “the Independent”

“Up & Over It's Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding storm through an entire grumpy argument by rapping their hands on the table. Smacks become thumps, soften into wheedling brushes and thunder back into angry wallops. The rhythms are as fast and intricate as tap dancing, while the performances are lit up with sidelong glances and seething resentment.

Cleary and Harding are champion Irish dancers, veterans of Riverdance. This routine grew from thinking out dance steps with their hands, though they’ve added acid pop culture and lots of squabbling. They’re a viral hit on YouTube, though they also show a clip of Simon Cowell rejecting their hand dance act: “Nobody will pay money to watch you do that!”

Their Edinburgh show is a cheerful jumble of hand dancing, video sketches and some genuinely virtuoso Irish dancing. Some of the sketches try too hard, with Riverdance an easy target. Their dance numbers are a stylish twist on traditional folk steps, performed with strong technique and sleek assurance. With hands and feet, the rhythms are wittily sharp, while the bickering, bantering personalities are very funny.”

From “the List” 16h August

“Former Riverdancers Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding have been producing shows inspired by their skills and training for some years now, most notably finding fame through hand-dancing on Britain's Got Talent. They savvily perceived that this essential part of learning the rhythms of Irish dance would make a brilliant and original spectacle of its own, and indeed it does.

What makes Into the Water special, however, is the anarchic, nostalgic and inventive hotchpotch of ingredients that has gone into its staging, along with Jonny Reed's digital design. Turning their eclectic vision and sharp talent towards creating work for children, Up & Over It has conjured lo-fi alchemy.

In a fantasy landscape, glittering with more homemade inventions and brassy-coloured toys than an 80s sci-fi movie, Cleary and Harding test and investigate their surroundings. That's about it plot-wise, which is the beautiful thing about this piece – all is discovery and invention. A book gives instructions on patterns of dance, a banana turns out to power a light-bulb strewn whirligig, and when the pair discover live-looping, things really start (rhythmically) cooking with gas.

As well as a voyage into the imagination, this is a celebration of Irish folk dance with a difference – the kind of children's show that adults could happily sneak into and enjoy.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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